Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

"I'm not abusing or anything": patient-physician communication about opioid treatment in chronic pain.

Matthias MS, Krebs EE, Collins LA, Bergman AA, Coffing J, Bair MJ. "I'm not abusing or anything": patient-physician communication about opioid treatment in chronic pain. Patient education and counseling. 2013 Nov 1; 93(2):197-202.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


OBJECTIVE: To characterize clinical communication about opioids through direct analysis of clinic visits and in-depth interviews with patients. METHODS: This was a pilot study of 30 patients with chronic pain, who were audio-recorded in their primary care visits and interviewed after the visit about their pain care and relationship with their physicians. Emergent thematic analysis guided data interpretation. RESULTS: Uncertainties about opioid treatment for chronic pain, particularly addiction and misuse, play an important role in communicating about pain treatment. Three patterns of responding to uncertainty emerged in conversations between patients and physicians: reassurance, avoiding opioids, and gathering additional information. Results are interpreted within the framework of Problematic Integration theory. CONCLUSION: Although it is well-established that opioid treatment for chronic pain poses numerous uncertainties, little is known about how patients and their physicians navigate these uncertainties. This study illuminates ways in which patients and physicians face uncertainty communicatively and collaboratively. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Acknowledging and confronting the uncertainties inherent in chronic opioid treatment are critical communication skills for patients taking opioids and their physicians. Many of the communication behaviors documented in this study may serve as a model for training patients and physicians to communicate effectively about opioids.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.